Monday, October 26, 2015

According to Plan

There are those days when it might have been better to never have gotten out of bed. This one was a mix of bravado of spirit and piss-poor bad luck.

It started on a gorgeous October morning on Mount Lemmon. The trees were at the peak of fall color. Maples were brilliant in their orange, yellow, and red. All of it framed by the deep green of Douglas fir, pondersa pine, blue spruce, and other conifers. The sky island is thickly sylvan. That's part of the problem when one has things like power lines that feed cabins.

So, it was a workday, and it was my job to clean up the down and leaning trees. There was one 40 foot tall fir leaning over the electrical line. You can see where this is going. I could see it all it my head: tie some lines onto the tree; get some heavy, strong people to pull at the ropes; watch the tree stand back up, away from the wire, and then topple in the other direction; there I could cut it into nice firewood lengths; voila! engineering masterpiece done. No more unsightly tree and I got to see it all through, a perfect vision realized. Things like this, however, don't always go according to plan.

I grabbed some old static lines from the cabin and used a stone to toss ends of the ropes as high up the trunk as I could. I didn't get them very high, and the loops were hung up in the many branches, making for a less than fully secure anchor on the tree. Getting the ropes looped around the tree took far longer than I thought it would. That should have been a sign.

After many failed attempts, I had two lines around the trunk of the leaning tree. With the help of neighbor Scott, his wife Alene, and Megan, we were ready to pull the leaning tree away from the power line.


We did relieve the equilibrium the tree had settled into but then it took on a weight and life all its own. It twisted on its rooty axis and decided to lean even further over the wires, coming to rest right on the exposed live wires. It was far heavier than I thought it would be. We were no match for the forces of gravity and inertia once it began to shift and fall.

Well, not so good.

Now we were in some trouble. The tree was leaning out over the driveway and threatening to fall on the truck.

There are times when one would like to rewind a folly and try it all again, or at least to never have tried in the first place.  These things usually happen on a Sunday, late afternoon, or on holidays when no one is available to save one's sorry butt. Some people have a way of timing crises just right.

A precarious tree sitting on a high tension electrical line is not something you can just leave at the end of a beautiful Sunday. We had to call the power company. They would have to come out and clean up my mess.

The worst part of all was the disconnect between my vision of a project executed perfectly and the reality of hanging mess.

There's something to learn there, someday.

I see another big ponderosa pine leaning over the electrical line further up the hill. If I could just get the rope a bit higher up the trunk and maybe tie the other end to the truck, and.... it will have to wait for a weekend though.

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